The Portland chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) would like to thank the Associated Students of the University of Oregon (ASUO) student senate and Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights (SUPER) in Eugene for the recent resolution to withhold funds from any...
For Immediate Release January 12, 2018 Portland, Oregon Local chapter members react to Israeli blacklisting of Jewish Voice for Peace, affirm their support for Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions targeting Israeli state despite risk of travel ban. Late last week, Israel...
The position that all people who live in a country deserve democratic rights should not be controversial. Rather, it’s the assertion that some people should be denied citizenship in order to preserve the political dominance of a particular ethnic or religious group that should be held up to scrutiny.
Action Alert: City Council Scraps Socially Responsible Investing?
This Wednesday, December 12th, the City Council of Portland will consider two resolutions brought forward by Mayor Wheeler. Together these two resolutions would mark an end to our city’s brief, but courageous effort to implement a socially responsible investment policy. JVP-Portland strongly opposes both of these resolutions. The first formally disbands the Socially Responsible Investment Committee which did heroic work to craft a meaningful “Do Not Buy” list for our city. The second implements a new investment policy which only indirectly, and in our view inadequately, incorporates very limited socially responsible investment criteria.
Here is the agenda for Wednesday’s City Council Meeting:
Below is JVP-Portland’s testimony, submitted yesterday, to the City Council. We urge folks to attend tomorrow’s City Council meeting to support the socially responsible investment for our city. Please get there early to sign up to testify.
JVP-Portland Coordinating Committee
Jewish Voice for Peace – Portland, OR Statement on Mayor Wheeler’s Resolutions to Dissolve the Socially Responsible Investments Committee and Adopt City of Portland Investment Policy
Thank you for soliciting public comment today on the mayor’s proposed investment policy. My name is _____, and I am speaking on behalf of the Portland chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, a member of the Occupation-Free Portland coalition.
More than a year ago, in April 2017, the Council voted to end investments in corporate securities as they matured. One unfortunate result of that decision was the failure to call out nine corporations, the “worst of the worst”, for their bad behavior. In particular, JVP believed it was important to specifically identify Caterpillar Inc. for egregious violations across multiple “social and values concerns” cited in the Socially Responsible Investments Committee (SRIC) September 30, 2016, report. These included Caterpillar’s role in Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian lands, its violations of indigenous peoples’ rights at Standing Rock, and its broad involvement in the extractive fossil fuel industry and direct contributions to catastrophic climate change.
JVP-Portland does not support the blanket ban on corporate securities; we support the targeted exclusion of investments in particular corporations based on clear and explicit criteria for socially responsible investments.
Our understanding of the Mayor’s new resolution and the two accompanying exhibits is that Portland will return to investing in corporate securities but only those issued by the companies listed in the resolution. Those companies were apparently modeled after Multnomah County’s investment portfolio. Unfortunately they were chosen without public input.
We in Jewish Voice for Peace find this unacceptable because the resolution returns the City to corporate investment without a socially responsible investment screen and without a Socially Responsible Investments Committee to review and make recommendations based on socially responsible investment criteria.
The resolution does omit the nine corporations recommended for the Do-Not-Buy list by the SRIC. This is a welcome development. However, we believe that not including clear and explicit socially responsible investment criteria in this resolution virtually guarantees that Portland’s corporate securities investments will not align with the values of Portlanders. Indeed, while those corporations listed in this resolution may not have sunk to the level of the “worst of the worst”, there are well-grounded, reasonable ethical objections to investments limited even to this short, select list.
We believe the City Council needs to amend this resolution to restore all of the socially responsible investment criteria. We must not reward corporations that behave irresponsibly on issues ranging from human rights to unfair labor practices, monopoly dominance to predatory lending, environmental violations to tax avoidance, and corrupt corporate governance to catastrophic climate change.
We wish to thank Commissioners Eudaly and Fish who invited us to suggest amendments to the resolution. Here are our suggested amendments:
*Amendment a) formally restore the seven criteria that the City considers in making an investment so that the investment is evaluated on the basis of—Environmental concerns; Health concerns including weapons production; Concerns about abusive labor practices; Concerns about corrupt corporate ethics and governance; Concerns about extreme tax avoidance; Concerns about exercise of such a level of market dominance so as to disrupt normal competitive market forces; Concerns about impacts on human rights.
* Amendment b) formally restore the Socially Responsible Investments Committee so that it can receive public input on proposed corporate investments and make recommendations to the City Council
* Amendment c) Adopt and release to the media the report submitted by the SRIC dated September 30, 2016. ...